Long working hours and stagnant wages cause transportation bottlenecks

People are often shocked when Robert explains that truck drivers like him often work 12-hour shifts.

“Although most people go to work from 9 am to 5 pm, we can go to work from 4 pm to 4 am,” said Robert, who asked the Financial Times to change its name so as not to annoy his employer, the UK Delivery Service The company Yodel.

Robert said that since the outbreak of the pandemic, longer shifts (up to 15 hours) have become more common because the rules of social distancing have led to a large-scale shift to online shopping.

Brexit has exacerbated this situation, and the Road Transport Association estimates that approximately 20,000 drivers have left the UK to return to their country in recent months.

But despite the fact that Brexit and Covid-19 have led to a tightening of the labor market-this has recently led to the British government Call in the army to help deliver gasoline -Stagnant wages and poor working conditions have also prevented young people from choosing one of the indispensable occupations in society.

“Today I entered a school with a 16-year-old child and offered them a job driving a truck for 12 hours a day-they would run to climb the mountain,” Robert said.

British express companies have provided higher salaries to ensure the security of the supply chain. In October last year, Yodel agreed to raise the wages of some drivers by nearly 20% because they threatened to take strike action, which may affect the delivery of supermarkets such as Marks and Spencer and Aldi.

Paul Day, managing director of Turners Soham, a trucking company that operates 2,300 trucks, estimates that British driver wages have risen by one-fifth this year. “Transportation companies must respond to retain employees… and someone will have to bear the cost,” he said, adding that consumers should expect higher prices.

“It is impossible to maintain current consumer expectations,” Day added.

Mike Hancox, CEO of Yodel, agrees that the “incredible” growth of e-commerce during the pandemic has forced many people to adjust their business models. However, he does not expect further pressure from working conditions. Although Yodel always needs to adapt to market conditions, Hancox believes that “any drastic changes required to meet the severe challenges of the current labor market”.

British citizens have made slow progress in filling the roles of many Eastern Europeans, who had worked as truck drivers and warehouse packers but returned home after Brexit. “Many jobs are at minimum or low wages, and some Britons are unwilling to fill these jobs at prices that the market has historically paid,” Dai said.

The squeeze of labor reserves on the supply chain extends beyond the borders of the United Kingdom. Tommy Wreeth, chairman of the Swedish Transport Workers’ Union, said the industry has long been talking about “divorce timetables”-evening and weekend shifts make it almost impossible for drivers to spend time with friends and family.

Although he acknowledged that society always needs to transport goods at inconvenient times, Wreeth believes that the boom in e-commerce has brought about an unsustainable shift to shorter and faster retail supply chains, in which smaller quantities of goods are moved more frequently .

He said: “I think the only way is to go back to the era when we have to wait a few days to deliver what we ordered,” he added, adding that many consumers have forgotten the work supply chain required to keep it running smoothly.

“Many people who shop online think they are doing something good for the environment because they don’t see the truck that delivers five pairs of shoes and then returns the four pairs to the warehouse,” Wreeth added.

The shortage of drivers coincides with the wave of automation.Companies are already developing driverless trucks, such as a California-based company Diagram is simple, Preparing to test its vehicle on public roads this year, and there is no one in the cabin.But this idea Self-driving truck Without a qualified driver in the cabin, the rumbling of dozens of tons on the road is still far away, and it must be too far to alleviate the current crisis.

“People don’t understand and don’t understand the work of manual workers-we are all focusing on technology, but forget that we always have some kind of manual operation,” Robert said.

Andy Prendergast, the country secretary of the British trade union GMB, said that labor shortages may loom in the UK supply chain for “a few years, assuming wages increase and more people enter the industry”.

He said that paying more to deliver goods to us is essential to provide food for supermarkets and people. “We must realize that we are trying to do this at a low price, and we will have to increase consumer prices or reduce company profits.”

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